Blogging days are over. And as much as I love to ponder and write about what it takes to make love real, it is clear that this weekly monologue of mine about sustainable love must evolve into something that actually impacts the experience of love in the world. Lucky for me that I met a social movement architect who has helped us conceive of the first organic love movement of its kind built on individual acts of love. The truth is that every time any one of us does something deliberately loving for someone else, it creates an energetic transmission that enlarges the emotional capacity of both the giver and the receiver; and while I have been writing for years about good ideas for getting there, it is time to enlist the legion of all of you, who have been reading (thanks for opening all this time) and turn you into certified Love Agents.
Archive for the 'Sustainable Love' Category
There are few things that make me ruminate like the abrupt endings of relationships. In fact, there is little that matters more to me than reconciliation, forgiveness and harmony with the people that I value and love. Still, I have my challenges, and like most of us have dealt with relationship endings, some from distance and changing occupations, others from abrupt and hurtful changes of heart. The latter are the ones that I get stuck on, especially when I am struggling to befriend myself. It is easy to get stuck in these ruts, which fester into self doubt and shame for months or even years, playing scenes over in the mind, looking for a reason. We want to identify where the break happened, the moment we go from being loveable to becoming undesirable; the moment when a heart hardens against us.
“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”-Buddha
Our first response to rejection of any kind is usually shame. It comes out looking like anger and a story of betrayal. It is hard for even the most emotionally balanced among us to not experience our most deeply ingrained fears of unworthiness when someone we have valued walks away and shuts a door on our heart. I have been steeped in these kinds of interactions recently and I have come to believe that these painful exchanges are the opportunity for the deepest transformative shifts in our thinking and why Carl Jung once wrote “The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.” Moving beyond our defensive posturing and even the legitimate excuses about relationship failures to attending to the heart of our own worthiness to be loved is the only cure.
It is odd how we take for granted the most basic of our sensory capacities until life teaches us otherwise. Losing our sight is one that is common to most of us as we age. Although both my parents wore corrective lenses, I boasted perfect vision until suddenly, as I approached 50, small print became illegible. It was the first real wake-up call for what was coming and I must admit that I didn’t go willingly towards the declining capacity that before then, seemed like things that only happened to other people. Suddenly I started to pay attention to what I could see well and maybe even more attention to what I could no longer see. My attention alone made colors more vivid, gave the subtle textures of fabrics and plants more depth; and the tones of the gray overcast sky became more subtle.
My father died last weekend, peacefully in his sleep. He was sick and unhappy for a very long time, so while his death was anticipated, the reality of it still surprised me. Even as I worked with hospice and caregivers daily over the last few weeks anticipating the moment, when death arrives, it turns things over on its head in ways you can’t anticipate. Finally, at the moment of his departure, all the years of trying to forgive him came clear. During all the efforts to forgive him and his persistent disrespectful and abusive ways, I never once looked at forgiving myself for not being able to love him. Going through his wallet now and finding photos of him on his driver’s license and one he had just gotten to carry a concealed weapon, I was at last able to see him beyond the anger, which was his primary interactive mode to keep people away. I could see into the grief and isolation that his photos showed. I wept for my own inability to love him more. My 17-year-old son, ever wise, said, “You loved him as much as he let you.”
If we could learn just two things about love that might just cure us of our broken relationships and dissatisfying sex it is this- that love does not come made to order and that we must be willing to ask for what we want. These two misunderstandings about the limits of relationships wreak havoc in the development and maturity of many long-term partnerships. Maybe it is all the romantic comedies or being brought up in a Disney culture of happily ever after, but the sad and happy truth of real and lasting loving relationships is that we don’t have control over how other people love us. Combined with the other persistent and unhelpful belief that other people should know what we feel or want from love without our telling them, and suddenly, the brokenness of our collective love lives comes clear. So here are three fixes for this useless cycle of love breakdowns that will cure your Valentine’s Day blues and carry you into a fertile new cycle of love this spring.
A good friend of mine recently told me that her resolution for this year was to become more human. She laughed as she shared the story with me, of how some of her friends from Silicon Valley didn’t quite understand the meaning of her pronouncement. “I am serious,” she said. “I want to feel more.” We all need to feel more, to become more human. As our lives are becoming increasingly dominated by digital gadgets that offer a superficial connectivity at best, we lose the face to face and heart to heart contact that in fact makes us human. Science bears this out, as more and more research is confirming how the combination of voyeurism and narcissism through Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are drastically reducing the amount of real relating time we engage in. Worse still, we are losing the primary skills required to do the messy and gratifying work of truly showing up, communicating and committing to the loving relationships that give life its purpose and meaning.
“I believe that if you’re healthy, you’re capable of doing everything. There’s no one else who can give you health but God, and by being healthy I believe that God is listening to me.” -Pedro Martinez
We all want to be better than we are. I think this is the basic truth that drives the annual New Year’s resolutions, which more often than not barely last until February and too often leaves us feeling failed instead of renewed. I think our resolutions fail because we come at them believing we need to change ourselves, and often in ways that are so unrealistic that the discomfort of trying makes it impossible to act on or even hold onto. At the same time, we resist the changes that are happening all around us almost all the time. Consequently, our relationship to life is skewed- we long for change we can’t quite manifest while fearing change we can’t stop. Resolving to shift our relationship to change may be the one resolution we can keep, not only for the sanity it brings to our efforts to change, but even more for the clarity it brings to the world around us.
Early this morning when my 15–year-old daughter who shares the daily morning makeup and hair routine with me, turned towards me, straightening iron in hand, to do my hair; for a few minutes time stood still. I like to think of myself as close to my teens, but honestly, we don’t talk much during those morning makeup sessions, except to ask to switch sides of the sink. But today as I felt her fingers and the weight of the iron as she pulled it through my hair, there was only that moment. The rush of the morning routine stopped with her spontaneous attention. Her unsolicited touch lingered long enough for her to prompt me to do my makeup. It lingered longer still, as I hurried out of the house with a short wave to my husband and then reversed the car back down the driveway to run back inside and give him a real hug goodbye. These brief interludes where we feel seen or have the generosity to extend that seeing to someone else slow time down.
I remain convinced that at the end of the day, at the end of our life, the only thing we are going to count is the people we loved and those who loved us back. I have heard that the final moments of consciousness are a rush of memories, images that have been indelibly etched in our heart where we connected, where we had let go and opened to love, where we had been received and loved just as we are. Our days are full of opportunities to cultivate more of these moments of true intimacy if we would only become attentive and available to them. Here are three simple attitude adjustments that will fundamentally alter our perspectives and allow us to get closer to our lives and the people that inhabit them.